RSS feed for Shi'a Pundit

Shi'a Pundit

Devoted to the viewpoint of Islam of Muhammad SAW and Amir ul-Mumineen, Ali ibn Abi Talib SA, in the Shi'a Fatimi Ismaili Dawoodi Bohra tradition.

September 4, 2004

Al Jazeera to launch English-language channel.

intriguing news:

The Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera, denounced and bombed by the US and banned by the Iraqi government, has begun recruiting staff for a channel in English that will show news and documentaries.

"The brief is emphatically not to do an English translation of the Arabic channel," said Nigel Parsons, the project manager. "It will have international appeal and fill a lot of gaps in existing output."

The original Arabic news channel, established in 1996 and funded by the emir of Qatar, not only bucked the trend towards frivolity and light entertainment but broke many taboos, interviewing Israeli politicians and allowing debate of a kind rarely seen on Arab television.
The English channel's target audience is worldwide - "not just Muslims who don't speak Arabic", Mr Parsons said. "I think we might have a ready audience there, but it is not going to be an anti-western or anti-American channel. Absolutely not."

The aim will be to fill a gap in the market vacated by other channels.

"If you take CNN, in the [United] States, they have been dragged to the right by Fox. Internationally, they definitely had a bad war in the Gulf. They have lost some credibility on the international stage.

"Where the BBC would come into the equation is that there has been a definite retreat ... on the news channels. Levels of coverage of the developing world are 40% of what they were when Michael Buerk first did the Ethiopian famine."

Surely Al-J can never silence its critics with regard to bias. Given that scrupulously fair news organizations like NPR get hammered by left and right alike, and that Fox news is passionately defended as a bastion of objectivity by its fans, I think that arguing about bias is a fools' errand.

What is more important is that al-J provides an authentically independent voice - free of control from either the Arab regimes or the Bush Administration, both of whom hate al-J for essentially the same reason. The ideal of free speech is served well by a media that is accountable to none and that is aggressive about airing all points of view.

Keep in mind that in addition to airing bin Laden's rants, they also provided more hours of convention coverage (both DNC and RNC) than all the domestic channels combined. The audiences of Al-Jazeera are getting both sides indeed - and I think that our side, not bin Laden's, fares better in the comparison.

Al-Jazeera will be an element in the eventual reclamation of true political liberty in the Middle East. The authentic, hard-fought, springs-from-within kind.

Note that the channel has been systematically targeted for silencing here in the US, from DNS attacks on its website to being banned from the NYSE (one, two, three). The trend continued at the Democratic convention, where al-J was forbidden to show its logo on its skybox (unlike other media outlets). The RNC, however, had no problem. Kudos to the RNC, and shame on the Democrats.

permalink | posted by Shi'a Pundit


Nahj-ul Balagha

About Shi'a Pundit

Shi'a Pundit was launched in 2002 during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The blog focuses on issues pertaining to Shi'a Islam in the west and in the Islamic world. The author is a member of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community. Bohras adhere to the Shi'a Fatimi tradition of Islam, headed by the 52nd Dai al-Mutlaq, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS).

traffic stats -

html hit counter